Columnists: Hans Nilsson, Fourfact

Published on: 13 Nov 2018

Not with a bang but with a yawn

The Financial Times (FT) might have had TS Eliot´s poem “The Hollow men” in mind when they wrote about how the the latest report from IPCC has been received. They said: “One need only consider the response to the IPCC report—essentially a collective yawn”. And Eliot said about the end of the world that it will not be with a bang but with a whimper.

In the FT they are contemplating about who makes the decision about the necessary changes in our life and again Eliot can give us a hint – it is the hollow men! What other explanation could there be?

In the latest Energy Efficiency Market Report from the IEA they are picking up the idea they had already in their World Energy Outlook 2012 (WEO 2012) showing how much the world stands to win if all the Efficiency opportunities were used in full both in terms of economy and in environment. To make it short – IT IS HUGE!

From WEO2012:
Using the profitable opportunities in energy efficiency the world economy could, by 2040, double GDP compared with today and still emit less GHG by 12% of which 40% attributed to efficiency.

Put differently, we could all be richer and the environment better without paying for it! Does it sound tempting? So why not do it? Is it because of the hollow men – the guys in command of the world?

The market needs to be used in full

The IEA writes that it is time for NEW policies but provide very little guidance that is not already known and tested and has shown to be insufficient. Politicians are however often afraid to take new steps and walking roads not beaten.

Many politicians are afraid of using the market opportunities fully. They could be accused of favouring particular products or companies. Nevertheless, there are several good cases showing that the market can be a good companion if structured differently:

  • The huge procurement activities in India by Energy Efficiency Services Limited {EESL} is a groundbreaking activity that transform several markets from lighting, to transportation, cooling and trigeneration. The experiences are easily transferable and has been used in other countries earlier.
  • The “Better Home” operation in Denmark shows that cooperation amongst commercial companies can provide not only a good range of energy efficient products but comprehensive solutions for energy consumers.
  • The PAT (Performance, Achieve, Trade) programme in India  shows a way forward that could engage industry to go beyond their normal simplistic piece-by-piece renovations.

The market can play a much bigger role in improving energy efficiency but it needs to be expanding its functions also to encompass cooperation with institutions such as private capital from the insurance sector and pension funds investors to direct capital for more benign (and profitable) actions.

Another institutional way forward is the proposal to make packages of small projects to reduce risks and to secure financing.

Further it should be explored how the offers on the market could be serving other purposes than just being energy efficient and also be “repairable” and not as normally today going to waste once they are used. I have heard that there are U-initiatives in this direction.

There is much that is already tested and more that could be done. Just do it! We can’t let the Hollow men win. Stop yawning!


The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Hans Nilsson